Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Diplomatic 'Own Goal' By India

In the latest twist in the case of the Italian marines who killed two Indian fishermen, the Indian Supreme Court has set aside the Italian ambassador's diplomatic immunity and prevented him from leaving the country.

I believe this is a mistake unbecoming of judges who ought to understand the law better than the average blogger.

Yes, the ambassador reneged on his undertaking to the Supreme Court that the marines would return to India after voting in elections back home, but revoking diplomatic immunity is untenable.

What the Supreme Court should have done was initiate contempt proceedings against the Italian ambassador for his breach of assurance. When he (inevitably) invoked diplomatic immunity, the court should have instructed the Indian government to declare him persona non grata and force him to leave the country.

That would have kept up the diplomatic pressure on Italy while staying on the right side of International law. By refusing to respect the notion of diplomatic immunity, the Indian Supreme court has not only weakened India's argument in this case, but has also set a precedent that could be used by other countries against India in the future.

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